World Girls' Hockey Day

Welcome to the World Girls' Hockey Day tracker from 2nd October 2011. We kept you updated here with events from all over the world starting in Australia, Japan and Kazakhstan before going over to Europe and all the way to North America’s Pacific coast. The result is a collection of images and reports from a day full of fun for girls all over the world. The stories were posted in chronological order as we got them with the newest ones on top. About 165 events took place in 20 countries and four continents, 21 countries including Iceland next week.

Click here for many more pictures in the photo gallery.

USA: Shakopee, Minnesota

The picture with these smiling girls reached us from one of five World Girls’ Hockey Day events that took place in Minnesota, organized by the Shakopee Youth Hockey Association.

“We had lots of fun. We had about 45-50 girls and Mom’s total for the open skate and plenty more taking pictures,” said Tom Everson.

USA: Wallingford, Pennsylvania

The Strath Haven Ice Hockey in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, invited girls for some practice and scrimmage and girls from elementary, middle and high school came for the ice sessions before gathering for food and conversations.

Norway: Trondheim

The Rosenborg Ice Hockey Club called for the World Girls’ Hockey Day in Trondheim, Norway, and 64 girls aged 4-11 came to register and borrow skates, helmets and sticks.

On ice they had a lot of fun with skating, stick-handling and some small-area games among other things. The girls received a hockey diploma while parents were informed about opportunities for their daughters to play ice hockey. A TV channel and two newspapers were at the rink for interviews and the club thinks the event was really an eye-opener for women’s hockey.

Canada: Kenora, Ontario

Girls ranging from Novice, Atom to Peewee came to the Keewatin Memorial Arena in Kenora, Ontario, with the girls split into 15 teams. A lead instructor was supported by four Midget girls to run the drills.

The World Girls’ Hockey Day participants were given a Lake of the Woods Girls tote bag full of goodies, such a skate mats, pillow cases, water bottles, head bands and skate towels.

“It was a very busy day, but I think it will be positive and if we consistently have it every year, it will be very beneficial to our club and players,” said Cindy Johnson, the President of Lake of the Woods Girls Hockey.

Sweden: Sundsvall

This photo reached us from Sundsvall, Sweden, where Malin Vikström and Håkan Sundkvist were the instructors for 13 girls between 6 and 12 years of age. The event was hosted at Gärdehov Arena by IF Sundsvall Hockey in the northern part of Sweden.

The girls seemed to be pretty happy after one hour of practice and the parents later joined them onto the ice.

Canada: Winnipeg

Hockey Manitoba held its first ever Girls Hockey Day at the MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg.

The demand was so big that a draw had to determine the 60 lucky girls that could enter the event.

At noon each girl was given a free hockey stick as well as a Hockey Manitoba jersey.

“We had two age groups (4-6 and 6-8) of 30 per group,” said former Team Canada player Fiona Smith-Bell, who introduced the girls to hockey.

Each group was on the ice for one-and-a-half hours, followed by a reception where each participant received a bagged lunch and a chance to ask the instructors questions.

“The parents and girls were extremely thankful for this wonderful opportunity and I know that we have gained a few more female hockey players in the province of Manitoba,” Smith-Bell said.

Canada: Calgary

More great pictures arrived at the IIHF from the World Girls' Hockey Day event at Hockey Canada's rink in Calgary, Alberta. More photos in our gallery (link above).

Switzerland: Geneva

The “Just for Girls” event in Geneva was Switzerland’s only World Girls’ Hockey Day event, but it was a full success for the organizer, Association Genève Futur Hockey.

50 participants between the age of 3 and 19 years came to the Les Vernets rink where the top men’s league team Genève-Servette is usually playing its games.

The girls had a visit to the locker room of the big guys, who later joined the event to teach their skills to the participating girls with and without hockey experience.

The girls first had skating lessons before practising some hockey skills and playing games in a mini-tournament where each team was helped by one of the men’s professional players.

After the event the participants and parents enjoyed some raclette, a Swiss cheese dish.

“All comments were very positive and most parents expressed their strong will to get involved with our organization in order to develop women’s ice hockey in our region,” said Ksenia Fliguil of Genève Futur Hockey. “We strongly believe that this event will give a strong boost for the community and our development.”

Belarus: Minsk

In Belarus’ Girls Hockey Day, the country’s first, 2010-founded women’s hockey team Pantera Minsk and all team members were introduced to 14,000 people during an intermission of Dynamo Minsk’s KHL game against Atlant Mytishi.

“The girls were really warmly welcomed by the audience,” said Yulia Romanyuk of the Ice Hockey Association of Belarus. Before the game, the puck drop was done by Pantera’s Slovak player Martina Velickova for Dynamo’s Jaroslav Obsut (another Slovak) and Atlant’s Dmitri Upper.

Martina Velickova, Elizaveta Loginova and the youngest player, Karina Shyptitskaya, held a shoot-out competition against their goalkeeper Anna Komarova. Also Dynamo Minsk mascot Zubr had a try, but couldn’t defeat Komarova.

“Such events will attract people to women’s hockey. We hope that the example of the fans will motivate girls who want to try to play hockey,” Romanyuk said.

Finland: Lahti

Lahti’s World Girls’ Hockey Day took place at the ISKU Arena where normally the professional men’s team Pelicans Lahti is playing, and some of the players (Pietilä, Kuusela, Paakkolanvaara) were even there.

Both Ella Viitasuo and Reetta Valkjärvi, who participated in the U18 national team camps, were also at the event and taught the girls skills on the ice.

20 girls aged 4-12 participated in the event. On the ice the girls got to practise their skating and stick-handling skills as well as having fun playing a lot of different games in different stations such as a skills course and football. The girls were also especially excited about getting the pink Girls’ Hockey Day bracelet from the event.

"The girls had a lot of fun due to the many active and skilled instructors from the area," said Hanna Olkinuora. "Apart from the visiting players from the Pelicans’ men’s team all of the instructors were female."

Finland: Lohja

Saara Tuominen, a former Finnish national team player who won three Women’s World Championship bronze medals and bronze at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, was busy with the World Girls’ Hockey Day in Finland on Sunday.

In the morning she went to TPS Turku’s event with 19 players including 11 girls who hadn’t played hockey before, and in the evening she went to the Kisakallio Sport Institute event in Lohja, a 30-minute drive from Helsinki, where she’s a coach.

42 girls came, of which 22 were new to hockey while the others had played for the local team, Kisaveikot.

“The youngest girl was not older than 3 years old and the oldest 9,” Tuominen said.

“I was very surprised how these little girls – some of who had not even skated before – lasted the whole time without a sign of fatigue. They just smiled on the ice and did everything the coaches told them to do.”

Girls who didn’t skate learned how to do it and several games were played. “The competition the girls liked the most was the one where they had to skate full speed and then slide on their bellies on the ice. The girl who slide the furthest won of course,” Tuominen said.

After the events the girls received Girls’ Hockey Day bracelets and were of course eager to see Tuominen’s Olympic bronze medal.

“I think the day like this is a huge step to get more girls involved with the game of hockey,” Tuominen said. “Many of the organizing teams – Finland had over 60 events – have been dreaming for a long time of building teams for girls aged between 5 and 9. Because of the event, most of the teams will soon have a girl groups and a league to play.”

Tuominen also had the probably youngest girl in Lohja with 2009-born Ella. “She didn’t skate the full practice, but had a huge smile on her face and enjoyed the event,” said Tuominen.

Latvia: Riga

This nice photo reached us from the other event that was held in Latvia, organized by women’s hockey club Laima Riga.

About 30 to 40 participants came to the Riga Sports Academy on Sunday evening to learn to play ice hockey.

Slovakia: Detva

The Girls' Hockey Day was organized by the Slovak Women Ice Hockey League Committee in Detva, a town in the middle of Slovakia.

This was the first event organized for promoting women’s ice hockey in the country. The organizers prepared many presents for the participating girls. They received a GHD puck, a colouring book, an activity book and some stickers with Slovak GHD logo at the registration.

The first hour of the event the girls played some off-ice games, spoke with Slovak women’s national team players about the ice hockey and had an excursion to youth hockey dressing rooms, where they were introduced with hockey equipment. After a snack break the girls got ready for practising on the ice and were surprised by receiving nice pink jerseys. After the on-ice practising, they received a commemorative diploma named “Iced Diploma”.

“Girls from 3 to 11 years of age were participating in our Girls’ Hockey Day,” said Lubomira Kozanova from the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation (SZLH). “Most of them told us after the event, that they want to continue with ice hockey. The Slovak Women Ice Hockey League Committee considers the first GHD in Slovakia an amazing event and we want to continue with this type of event in other parts of Slovakia.”

Norway: Stavanger

35 girls participated in the event in Stavangar, Norway.

“We were on the ice for an hour and had some time later to eat and socialize. Our instructors did a great job of keeping everyone moving and trying new things,” said Laura Rollins, who is coaching the women’s U18 national team.

“A couple of the players from our women's team came out on the ice to help and be role models, which worked out nicely.  The girls really enjoyed themselves, and seemed to learn a lot.”

Japan: Sendai

When we had Sendai mentioned on IIHF.com it was on a tragic day. The earthquake and tsunami last spring heavily hit the city, and the Korean team that came to Japan for the Asia League final has just left Sendai airport, which was completely destroyed, before the natural disaster.

The happier we were when seeing the pictures we received form the World Girls’ Hockey Day event in Sendai. 30 girls and ladies came to enjoy a day of hockey with 160 more persons in attendance at the Sendai ice rink that re-opened after it had not been operated for four months due to the earthquake.

It was a great day for hockey people in the city as many athletes were not able to conduct ice sports in the last few months. The event was organized by Kato Corporation in co-operation with the Miyagi Ice Hockey Federation.

Canada: Calgary

Hockey Canada and its regional branches expect more than 2,000 girls at more than 30 events in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

One of the events included an exhibition game of the new Alberta team in the professional women’s hockey league CWHL against the Warner School (5-4) at Hockey Canada’s new rink in Calgary with clinics and skills sessions for girls before the match.

USA: Littleton, Colorado, and more

76 events are planned on World Girls’ Hockey Day in the United States. One of them many pictures reached us was organized by the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association in Littleton, Colorado.

CSGHA hosted the Girls Try Hockey For Free Day where girls learned the basics of the game in a fun and safe environment at the Edge Ice Arena with support how to get dressed and skate around.

26 new girls appeared and were helped by their instructors and the U19 AAA team and the U14 AAA team of the organization.

Several national team players were helping women’s hockey at various locations including Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight in Stoughton, Wisconsin; Anne Schelper and Jen Schoullis in Shakopee, Minnesota; Caitlin Cahow, Gigi Marvin, Bri Mastel and Molly Schaus in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Kaliya Johnson, Annie Pankowski and Paige Savage in Jay, Vermont.

Belgium: Deurne

42 participants came for Belgium’s event of the World Girls’ Hockey Day in Deurne at the Ice Rink Ruggeveld. It was the third time Belgium hosted an event like this.

“It’s the best way to promote ice hockey for girls,” said John Bollue, the Sports League Director of the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation. “It’s great when girls can play among girls. There’s a load of objections by the clubs to run girls’ programs, but a day like this helps them change their mind.”

There were two groups for the younger girls between 4 and 12 years of age, and a second group with women aged 12 to 46 with skills challenges and games.

At the end of the event the younger group played jury to elect the best hockey cake (see above, who would not have liked to join?!) and the girls also created a mascot in puck shape.

The Belgian women’s national team was also present to organize a small exhibition on women’s hockey in Belgium.

Sweden: Karlskrona

About 24 participants took the opportunity to try hockey with the Karlskrona Hockey Klubb in Sweden, aged 6-25. After some information about women’s hockey in Sweden and borrowing the equipment the girls were ready for practice with skating, passing, stick-handling, a game and a photo session.

“The girls had fun and the parents were satisfied with the event,” said Conny Olausson, the head coach of the women’s team. “The local radio stations also had interviews with three girls from the team.”

Latvia: Riga

After a successful first women’s hockey camp in summer the women’s hockey club Saga Riga was happy to join in for the World Girls’ Hockey Day at the Daugava ice rink in Riga with 47 participants aged between 7 and 25 who played hockey for the first time.

“When we heard about the World Girls’ Hockey Day we visited all schools in our region, that’s why we were able to recruit so many girls,” said Saga head coach Inguna Lukasevica.

“We played several types of games as a warm up before exercising shooting, skating, stick-handling and a game. We got very good comments. There were some parents who are playing ice hockey and now they want their daughters to play. One father came with nine-year-old twins and another daughter six years of age. The event was very good to make women’s hockey more popular and we will try to do it at least two, three times a year.”

Norway: Tromsø

In a new ice rink in Tromsø in northern Norway one of the four events in the country took place with 30 girls new to the sport aged 6-11.

All girls received a special hockey jersey they can keep and skaters, helmets and sticks were ready to be borrowed.

“Girls who never skated before were in one part of the ice, and the others divided in three groups. They tried stick-handling, skating and played a game,” said Kari Berg Rogstad, the project leader of Norway’s Girls’ Hockey Day.

“After ice time all girls received a hockey diploma, they could eat and drink in the cafeteria and got some information about girls’ hockey from the Norwegian Ice Hockey Association and from the Tromsø Ice Hockey Club. The girls had great fun and several will come back already on Tuesday!”

Finland: Kuusamo

Finland was the busiest European country with 61 events on World Girls’ Hockey Day! The first report reached us from Kuusamo in the Oulu province in the north of the country where 20 girls between four and ten years of age participated in the event.

The girls practised skating, puck-handling and played a scrimmage and other games. At the end the girls got diplomas and were informed by the local club Pallo-Karhut about how to start playing hockey. Anne Helin was at the event and the girls were happy to pose for a photo with her and her Vancouver Olympics bronze medal.

Netherlands: Geleen

A Girls Only day was organized by the Ice Hockey Associations of the Netherlands (NIJB) and the Smoke Eaters Geleen at the Glanerbrook ice rink already two weeks ago. It was a busy weekends with no less than 143 participants aged between 9 and 48 years.

Every team consisted of national team players, youngsters, veteran players and less experienced players from all over the country. They were split in seven teams and each squad played six games of 20 minutes.

“Most of the participants were surprised at the amount of female hockey players in the Netherlands, they were just not aware of it,” said Marlies Goessens, one of the organizers. “The younger girls loved playing with the older, more experienced players which are a role model to them while the older players loved to see the young girls play and teach them something, and they recognized the drive the youngsters had. During the weekend several media gave the event a visit; we were on a regional TV channel and several newspapers wrote a story about it.”

Ireland: Ballyfermot

Ireland’s girls’ day took place at the Ballyfermot Leisure Centre in the Dublin region organized by the Irish Ice Hockey Association and various clubs including the Dundalk Bulls Ladies, Molly Malones and Flyers IHC.

Because there is currently no ice rink in the Republic of Ireland, it was actually an inline hockey event.

“We had approximately 15 participants throughout the day with ages ranging from 7 up to 30. We’ve hopefully recruited several new female players to the sport!” said Dean Kelly, the IIHA General Secretary.

The day began at 10am with the Learn to Play program, followed by practice sessions during three hours that also included existing female players that were on hand to give tips and advice, and a 3-on-3 game. It was lots of work and fun for everybody.

“Those who were new to the sport and trying it out for the first time had lots of fun and really enjoyed it,” Kelly said. “They were all very tired as it was quite hot in the sports hall. Mostly, they all really enjoyed playing the scrimmage at the end.”

“Hopefully, we will have recruited new players to the sport and it will help bolster the media attention the sport receives here in Ireland. We may have seen some future players for the Irish national teams play for the first time today. We may even see some new teams and clubs set up in the coming weeks and months. It will also show that the sport is very easily accessible to those who want to try it out for the first time.”

Iceland/Russia

Ice Hockey Iceland announced on our Facebook posting that they’ll also join the World Girls’ Hockey Day initiative, although one week later on Sunday, 9th October in Reykjavik at the Egilshöll ice rink.

Also Russia didn’t have a World Girls’ Hockey Day event with new kids joining the sport today, but they used the day to celebrate women’s hockey with the women’s U18 national team that’s having a training camp in Novogorsk with a skills challenge. Renata Isanbayeva and Lyudmila Belyakova were the fastest skaters, Kristina Timofeyeva the fastest defender and Vlada Ovcharova the best goalkeeper. The best shooters were Anna Timofeyeva and Valeria Pavlova among forwards, and Yekaterina Nikolayeva and Maria Bukshevannaya among defenders.

Sweden: Linköping

14 girls born 1997-2005 gathered at 9:00 at Stångebrohallen in Linköping for one of the events scheduled in Sweden. It started with getting some information at the cafeteria of the arena before getting the gear in the dressing room and an on-ice session of about 75 minutes.

“The participants seemed to like it and they had fun both on and off the ice,” said Peter Eriksson, the head coach of Linköpings HC’s girls’ team.

“We wanted to increase the awareness that girls hockey exists, even among girls who didn’t come this time but hear about it, and we will probably get a number of new players on the team.”

Kazakhstan: Almaty

The nation’s leading women’s hockey club Aisulu Almaty was organizing Kazakhstan’s World Girls’ Hockey Day event in Almaty, the country’s former capital. The 70 participants were split between two ago groups for girls between the age of 12 and 14 years, and for 14/15-year-olds.

The girls practised skating, stick-handling, passing and – the most exciting part for them – shooting.

“In the beginning the girls were very careful on the ice, but then they had so many positive impressions and the environment became real fun,” said Yekaterina Skobelkina, Aisulu’s Assistant to the Director. “There were instructors on the ice, some of them national team players. The parents were talking with coaches and trying to find out more about opportunities to play hockey.”

Japan: Tokyo

The Japan Ice Hockey Federation held its event at the Higashi Yamato Skate Center at Higashi Yamato-shi in Tokyo with 23 girls from 11 club teams from various regions.

The event began with a speech of Japan’s women’s national team coach who encouraged the players to have a dream and work on it. They watched a Canada-USA game played at the recent IIHF Twelve Nations Invitational Tournament Series to see the highest level of the game and continued with ice practices and physical training.

“The girls made many new friends and they were eagerly asking questions to the head coach,” Taeko Hosoya of the Japan Ice Hockey Federation said. “The event will help us to spread ice hockey.”

Australia: Queensland

Girls Day Programs will be organized in all member states of Ice Hockey Australia. The first one was run by Ice Hockey Queensland in the northeast part of the country that includes cities like Brisbane and Gold Coast.

While summer is approaching in Australia, it was the “Sunshine State” that kicked of the series of girls events. Although the season in Australia and the southern hemisphere is over, the timing works well.

“Because of lacking ice time due to normal national and state league activities, and the fact our National Women’s League and Development Camps take place during the off-season (October – February), Ice Hockey Australia made the decision that it would be more advantageous to conduct the Girls Day Program in the off-season when ice time is more readily available and compliments the National Women’s Program (Development Camps & Leagues) commencing this weekend with Ice Hockey Queensland,” said Don Rurak, the President of Ice Hockey Australia.

Girls Day Programs will be conducted in the five remaining member states over the ensuing months, including on 16th October in Melbourne and on 13th November in Adelaide.

France: various locations

France already held its Girls’ Hockey Day earlier in mid-September to coincide with a national sports day where kids could try out many sports.

Twelve hockey clubs all over the country opened their doors exclusively for girls: Brest, Cergy/Pontoise, Chalons en Champagne, Chambery, Chamonix, Dammarie les Lys, Le Mans, Mulhouse, Nantes, Strasbourg, Toulon and Toulouse/Blagnac.

The clubs received material for practices based on the ones from the IIHF from the French Ice Hockey Federation (FFHG), Recruitment Program flyers as well as t-shorts and bracelets for all the girls who participated.

MARTIN MERK

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